Citizens top after 12 games

PUBLISHED: 16:27 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:29 03 October 2013

WGC keeper Joe Croft. Picture by Dave Fallon.

WGC keeper Joe Croft. Picture by Dave Fallon.


THERE’s an old maxim in football that says a club will know how their season will pan out, only after a dozen games.

Well, with 12 games gone in the SSML Division One, Welwyn Garden City find themselves in top spot, two points clear of the pack.

Admittedly, some of the teams below them have played less games, notably Broxbourne Borough, one of only two sides to have beaten Adam Fisher’s outfit and local rivals Codicote, yet to be beaten in the Division this season.

The Citizens have had something of a champagne start to the first third of the new campaign, scoring 42 goals and enjoying crushing victories over of Stony Stratford, Langford and Kentish Town.

But this latest victory against a useful Baldock Town side was a win of a different sort.

This was a gritty, hard fought victory, in which a depleted WGC had to withstand sustained Baldock pressure in the final quarter and were grateful to some fine Joe Croft saves in the closing minutes, to preserve the points.

The Citizens were lacking unavailable top scorer Joel Norris and skipper Liam Kenna, while midfielder Daryl Smith was unwell. Carl Costain was drafted into defence and Sam Perrin recalled.

After an opening 15 minutes in which the only noteworthy effort was a Perry Stellon free-kick driven straight at Baldock keeper Jack Farmer, WGC fell behind from the penalty spot, Costain adjudged to have handled as a left wing cross was struck by Baldock’s Ian Morrison.

The home side’s top scorer Lee Harman stepped up to drive his effort just under Croft’s dive.

But within four minutes, WGC were on level terms. Jason Caswell found Isaac Oppong, who held up play before slipping a fine ball back to put Caswell in on goal and he blasted his 11th league goal of the season, high over Farmer.

Chances were few and far between in this game, unlike most previous WGC matches so far this season.

The best chance to put the Citizens in front, saw good work by Stellon set up a chance for Ade Osobu, who turned well, but put his effort just wide.

Seven minutes from the break, WGC were struck a blow when they lost midfielder Juan Cifuentes with a hamstring pull, Ben Awad replaced him.

Nine minutes into the second-half, WGC did take the lead with a route-one goal. Sean Brettell delivered a fine free-kick fully 50 yards onto the headed of an unmarked Caswell and his deft, glancing effort beat Farmer, for his 12th of the campaign.

Moments later, WGC were struck a second hamstring injury blow, Oppong having to leave the field, replaced by Kofi Yeboah.

The Citizens then had two golden chances to seal the result in as many minutes. Firstly Osobu raced clear, slipped full-back Scott Rennie and keeper Farmer, but blazed a fine opportunity over the top.

In the next move, Osobu got clear again, but this time struck his shot against Farmer.

It proved WGC’s final serious attack of the game and for the final 25 minutes, they had to defend in depth, referee Weight seemingly playing lengthy overtime for the injury to Oppong and one to keeper Croft.

During this spell, Croft showed no ill effects from a hefty fall, as he tipped away an effort from Baldock substitute Aulsberry and then made outstanding saves to push over a Harman free-kick and turn away striker Christie’s goalward strike deep into stoppage time.

WGC: Croft, Perrin, Costain, Dahl, Brettell, Oppong (Yeboah K 78), Cifuentes (Awad 38), Stellon, McArdle, Caswell, Osobu (Yeboah A 82).

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